Letters I Will Never Send (aka: Life in the Desert)

2017 Goals

Well, I did it. On the very last day of 2017, I have managed to accomplished the one and only tangible goal I set for the year. What was that goal, you ask? It was to read 55 books. Yay, me!

I know. Big whoop.

That is exactly how I feel about meeting my goal. Meh. Whatevs. Had I failed, had I only managed to read 54 books, or even 40 — gasp — would it have made any difference? No, not at all. 55 was just some random number I came up with in order to participate in the Goodreads Reading Challenge. It was fun, I guess, to see if I could do it, but also kind of pointless. Who cares whether I read 55 books? What matters more is whether I read anything of value, anything noteworthy, anything lasting.

Reflections & Lessons Learned

I didn’t set any other goals during 2017. Most of my life was about maintenance. Maintain my consistent good efforts in my career. Maintain my weight. Maintain my regular fitness routine. Maintain my family and home.

I also had unwritten, less-defined social goals. Go out of my way to talk more with people at my workplace. Attend one or two meetup events per month in order to get to know other people, and maybe try a few new social things. The idea was to break out of this social desert I’ve been existing in for the past 6-7 years. Maybe even make a friend or two.

But then I did something really stupid. Something that took an incredible amount of courage to try, but was still stupid. I gave dating a try. After all, I had been divorced for a few years. I’m still fairly young and attractive, a great person, and fairly interesting, so why not?

Unfortunately, it went too well. I spent the summer dating the man of my dreams. He was ideal for me, in every possible way. We had so much in common and got along beautifully. We were even compatible in bed — something I had assumed would not happen in my lifetime. But Mr. Right did not feel that I was right for him, and he moved on. I can’t blame him for that. He has every right to seek the woman who is right for him.

And that was the end of the dating experiment. Because after you’ve met your ideal partner, well, there’s nowhere else to go but downhill, into Settlesville. I already spent 17 years being unhappily married to someone I had settled for. I have zero interest in repeating that history.

What did I learn from that failure? I learned that I can’t handle losing friends. Because that is what he had become to me. Strip away the romantic stuff, the kissing and flirting and sex, which I can live happily without, and we had developed such a good friendship. And then…nothing. Another abandoned friendship. The inevitable fate of every single close friendship I have ever formed. And as usual, not my decision.

The pain of losing a close friend is the sharpest, most intense pain I have ever experienced. It hurts worse than natural childbirth. It is harder than divorce. It is as deep as grief. The only solution that makes sense to me, the only way to keep it from happening yet again, is to never form close friendships with anyone ever again. Not in a romantic or platonic sense. The end result, the rejection and abandonment, is far too high a price to pay.

Luckily, I have had many years to practice being my own good friend. I’m pretty good company, I must say. I’m interesting, and kind, and funny, and I have great taste in food, music, and movies. Not to mention books. This year, I plan to take myself out on more solo hikes, to a concert or two, and maybe, just maybe to a live sporting event. All activities that I have been avoiding, saving up to do when I finally have a person or two to share my life with. Well, no more. I have waited long enough.

I still very much miss the people I once called my good friends. I think about them often. I still miss Mr. Right, too. I write to him weekly — letters about my life, wondering about his, sharing jokes I know he’d laugh at, all the things I wish I could share with him. Letters I will never send. Letters I pretend he’ll read, because the only way I know how to cope with the leaving is to pretend that they have all stayed in my life. That they are still my friends. That they still care.

2018 Goals

I have no idea what my goals are. I have no current actual, tangible goals. I have ideas, like traveling with my kids, volunteering in my community, writing stories, and paying off debts I inherited in the divorce. There’s also the usual maintenance stuff. But until I have written these down along with a clear objective and a timeline, I hesitate to call them goals.

I have no more relationship goals or dreams of any kind.

Hey, I know! Maybe this year, I’ll set a goal of reading 75 books. Why not? I have the free time. And just think of all of those books waiting to be read. And if I fail? Well, then I end the year with a few less literary notches on my belt. No pain, no big loss. I’ll drink to that — Cheers!

Rabid Vampire Dogs (and Other Irrational Fears)

Mostly, I think of myself as a pretty brave person. I am not afraid of insects or public speaking or things that go bump in the night. I will courageously climb mountains, ride roller coasters, and even walk through dangerous urban neighborhoods without so much as a shiver. However, like many people, I am plagued by a few irrational fears. One of the worst? Dogs.

Okay, the thing is, I love dogs. Especially when they are locked up securely inside of someone’s home. I will happily go inside and pet dear, sweet Cocoa or Woofie or Fido (does anyone really name their dog Fido?). But if I encounter a stray dog wandering around the neighborhood, I panic. Seriously. I am paralyzed with fear. Suddenly, dear, sweet Woofie, in my imagination, has transformed into Cujo, snarling and foaming at the mouth, poised to attack and infect me with rabies.

Cujo scarred me for life

Okay, fine. My parents gave me the liberty to read Stephen King when I was only eight years old, and I am now permanently scarred. Yes, clowns freak me out, too, thanks to It and the clown under the bed in Poltergeist.

IT (Thanks a lot, Stephen King)

Even chihuahuas make me shudder. Yes, yes, they are soooo cute when dressed in a sparkly tutu and riding in some celebrity’s sequined handbag. But once, I ran screaming down the street while one of these vicious little rat-dogs chased me, barking and growling. By once, I mean a year ago. I know, I am an adult. I am supposed to be so brave and tough. But have you ever seen their teeth? Those creatures are like canine vampires! I’m sure that they are out for my blood. Honestly, I could probably step on a chihuahua and kill it, but just in case, I think that next time I take a walk around my neighborhood, I will carry a wooden stake…just in case.

Things Which Scare the Living Daylights Out of Me:

stray dogs
clowns (especially with bushy red hair)
standing next to a steep cliff
grizzly bears
drop-crotch jeans
singing in front of people
Tangina Barrons

“Nothing in life is to be feared. it is only to be understood.” ~ Marie Curie